Premier League: Our round 16 predictions

In 8 days, this is the third(!) time I’ve written this post. The fixtures just keep on coming, and we here at FootyFans will be (badly) predicting it the whole way. Well, not all of us – Oliver couldn’t get his predictions in this week.

Oliver is knocking on the door as he leads the pack on 94 points, Alf continues to narrow the gap as he’s on 86, and I’m also starting to pick up more points as I sit on 71.

On with the tipping!

Bournemouth vs Liverpool

Dan

Liverpool’s unbeaten streak has to end. It has too. And what better team to end it than one of the most criminally underrated in the league? I’m backing Bournemouth to win here. 2-1 Bournemouth

Alf

Bournemouth may have lost the last few games but they all hit the back of the net successfully as a consolation. Liverpool just won against the Clarets, although Salah’s not scoring, Firmino and Shaqiri will be there to take the points back home. 3-1 Liverpool

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Burnley vs Brighton

Dan

Brighton struggle on the road, while Burnley aren’t too bad at home. Sean Dyche & Co should be able to eek out a 1-0 here. 1-0 Burnley

Alf

Yes, Burnley may have lost against a quality Liverpool travelling party but finally, they’ve scored a goal. Hopefully, this will help to gain the confidence of the forwards. Brighton, though, would not want to leave Turf Moor with nothing. It’s going to be a draw. 2-2 draw

Manchester United vs Fulham

Dan

United continue to just draw with sides, both good and bad. I can see that sort of mediocrity continuing, when you look Mourinho’s struggles and Ranieri’s quality. 1-1 draw

Alf

The Fulham players must be jotting notes when they were watching Arsenal playing against their opponents next game. Honestly, Mourinho should go when if the home side get nothing after the 90 minutes. It should be an easy win, on paper. 4-1 United

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Arsenal vs Huddersfield

Dan

Undefeated in 20 games in all competitions now, Arsenal continue to show just how much they have improved under Emery, and Huddersfield should be brushed aside fairly easily. 3-0 Arsenal

Alf

I’m a bit disappointed that my team slipped the lead twice when they faced Manchester United to force a draw. To be honest, in the “Herbert Chapman derby”, Arsenal should be able to get the points, but they won’t win big like last season, where they humiliated the visitors 5-0. 2-0 Arsenal

Cardiff vs Southampton

Dan

Southampton have a new manager, so this could potentially go anyway. However, Cardiff have won 3 out of their last home games and are proving a tough challenge, and a challenge that Southampton will not be able to overcome. 2-1 Cardiff

Alf

It’s Ralph Hasenhüttl’s first game in charge as the Saints manager. It’s also his first 90 minutes in England and is not going to be a smooth sailing for the former RB Leipzig boss. Cardiff will be working hard to get the win and force the Saints to make mistakes. But that’s okay, who doesn’t? 1-1 draw

West Ham vs Crystal Palace

Dan

With six goals and two wins in their last two matches, I think we are finally seeing the West Ham we thought we’d see at the start of the season. If they can keep that sort of form up against Palace, then it’ll be another easy win. 2-0 West Ham

Alf

Palace lost the M23 derby away against Brighton. West Ham won against Cardiff. The scores for both fixtures were 3-1. Is history going to repeat itself? I think so. 3-1 West Ham

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Chelsea vs Manchester City

Dan

God damn it Chelsea. Two weeks ago, I was confident that this match was going to be City’s first defeat. But, then you had to go and fall out of form. I hate myself for doing so, but I’ll tip City to win here. 2-1 City

Alf

Chelsea were beaten 2-1 away by the Wolves while City won 1-2 away against Watford. Sarri will demand his men to put up a good fight to against the table toppers. Not going to lie but I really like the away kit of the visitors this season (you won’t see me later, I guess). 3-1 City

Leicester vs Tottenham

Dan

Leicester are another criminally underrated side, and beating them is no easy task. They’ll be able to frustrate Tottenham a lot in this game, and come out with a point. 1-1 draw

Alf

Well, it’s Tottenham and they’re visiting Leicester. Unless the Foxes are planning to stage a comeback like what Arsenal did in the North London derby, I can see the Lillywhites to grab all 3 points back to north London. 3-0 Tottenham

Newcastle vs Wolves

Dan

I have to pinch myself to remind myself that yes, Wolves did actually Chelsea. Considering the inconsistent form, and goal scoring issues of both teams, I can see this being a goalless draw, although I don’t think it’ll be boring. 0-0 draw

Alf

Did anyone really expect the Wolves to win against Chelsea? Even I myself was surprised! Newcastle will be an uphill climb for the wolves but they’re hungry enough to catch the magpies off guard for a tasty “chicken dinner”. 3-1 Wolves

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Everton vs Watford

Dan

When you compare the two teams, Everton have proven that slow and steady wins the race, as they sit in the top six while Watford, despite their electric start are in 11th. With their superior quality, Everton will show Watford who’s boss. 2-0 Everton

Alf

The “Marco Silva derby” is finally here. But the Premier League is no place for sentiment. Everton do have an advantage in getting the points but Silva, as the former Toffees coach, knows how they’ll do it. If it’s not a draw, I don’t know what it is.2-2 draw

 

 

Football’s golden oldies – the oldest football players around the world

Earlier this week, the Wellington Phoenix announced their signing of Australian goalkeeper Ante Covic as an injury cover for Filip Kurto. Covic isn’t a bad goalkeeper – he’s represented his country and he’s played in three European countries as well as Australia. However, he’s also forty-three years old, two months older than his own manager Mark Rudan. That puts him at the older end of active players, but he’s not the oldest. Let’s look at who is.

Across Europe

Before we can go up, we have to go down. The Premier League doesn’t currently have any players as old as Covic, but it does have 16 players over the age of 35. Twelve of these players are goalkeepers, with the exceptions being Glenn Murray, Jermain Defoe, Phil Jagielka and Bruno Saltor, the oldest outfield Premier League player at the age of 38. Only one player crosses the line into 39 – Crystal Palace keeper Julian Speroni.

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La Liga’s oldest is 38-year-old Juanjo Camacho at Huesca, while Serie A has Stefano Sorrentino, 39. The Bundesliga goes up to 40 with Claudio Pizarro of Werder Bremen. Ligue 1 has two more 40+ players, Gianluigi Buffon, 40, and Montpellier captain Hilton, 41.

But we can go higher.

Across the World

Let’s look at international players. It’s increasingly common for footballers to retire early from international service, for a number of reasons – for young players to come through, to focus on club commitments, etc. And this isn’t so bad if you play for, say, Germany, where there’s a talent pool big enough to bring someone into your shoes.

That’s not really applicable, however, for a smaller country, somewhere without the population or facilities to excel in football – or much else, for that matter – but still loves the game. Somewhere like Andorra, the nation of one of the three active international players over the age of 40.

Juli Sanchez was born in 1978. He’s had a decent career by Andorran standards, playing in his home country as well as Spain and Portugal. He made his debut in Andorra’s first FIFA-recognised match, and he managed to get on the scoresheet in their win over Belarus in 2000, their first-ever. He’s played 70 games now for the tiny Pyrenees nation. In many ways, his career is the story of football in Andorra. And he’s still kicking – he played in Andorra’s most recent match, against Latvia, as a substitute.

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For our other two international players over 40, we’re going to leave Europe in favour of the Caribbean.

I can’t find much information on Benny Labadie – perhaps it’s a side effect of playing for the U.S. Virgin Islands. In any case, he was born in 1977 and is forty-one years of age. He spent seven years at Skills F.C. in the Saint Croix Soccer League – there are two separate leagues in the Virgin Islands for mainly geographic reasons. He now plays for Rovers in the same league, he’s a goalkeeper, and that’s about all there is to know. Oh, and he started the Virgin Islands’ most recent match, a 3-0 loss to Barbados in November.

But there is one current international player that is older, and we don’t have to go far to find him.

400km southeast of Saint-Croix, we find the nation of Dominica. There’s only seventy thousand people on the island, and as such, quality footballers are had to come by. This explains the case of Euclid Bertrand, who was born in 1974 and is 44 years of age. Bertrand isn’t a bad footballer, having played in sixteen matches for Dominica, including just a month ago against Sint-Maarten. He’s also got five years’ experience up in Canada – not bad for a Dominican given the rest of their squad either play at home or elsewhere in the Caribbean.

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But we can go higher.

At Club Level

Remember Essam El-Hadary? Of course you do. The Egyptian shot-stopper became the oldest ever player at a FIFA World Cup earlier this year when he played against Saudi Arabia – and saved a penalty – at the age of 45. He’s been left off the internationals part of this article simply because he retired from international football after the World Cup. However, he’s still playing club football, having left Saudi club Al-Taawoun in favour of former club Ismaily back in Egypt. His 46th birthday is in January, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down.

He’s by no means the only one still kicking at 45 – there’s also Oscar Perez, currently at Pachuca. Also a goalkeeper, Perez has 57 Mexico caps and went to two World Cups – 2002 and 2010. He’s not still playing international football, unfortunately, but he’ll be 46 in March and one can assume he won’t stop playing club football.

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We can go older than both El-Hadary and Perez, though, and we’re going back to Andorra to do it.

Leonel Gancedo’s a pretty experienced footballer. He’s played for River Plate and Osasuna among other clubs. He’s got a Copa Libertadores in his trophy cabinet, along with six other competition wins. He retired at the start of 2009, at the age of 37, and one would assume that that was the end of Leonel Gancedo.

It was not. Encamp in Andorra hired him as player-manager in September this year, and Gancedo’s played fifty-one minutes over the course of three matches. He’s not done well at all, as Encamp are sitting in last place with one point and five goals scored in ten games, but he does get the distinction of being the world’s oldest footballer.

Well, no he actually doesn’t. We’re going across Europe, and across Asia, all the way to Japan.

The story of Kazuyoshi Miura

File:Kazu Miura, Roberto Baggio and Tsuyoshi Kitazawa.jpg

We’ve all heard of Stanley Matthews, haven’t we? The Englishman was one of the greats of the first half of the 20th century in footballing terms. He played a very long career, 1932 to 1965, and played for England for twenty-four years. He spent nineteen years at Stoke City and fourteen at Blackpool. He’s a true legend of the early game.

Kazuyoshi Miura’s not had that same loyalty – he’s played for thirteen clubs in his career, only two of which he’s been at for more than five years – but he has broken Matthews’ record as the oldest-ever professional footballer, which he achieved in March 2017. He’s played in a few countries – Brazil, Japan, Italy, Croatia and Australia – and he picked up almost ninety Japan caps in his ten years of international football before he retired in 2000 aged 33.

Since 2005 he’s been playing for Yokohama FC (no, not F. Marinos) in the Japanese second-tier. He’s seen twelve managers in that time, and even though his role has been somewhat diminished under new boss Edson Tavares, he’s still going at it at the age of 51. And I, for one, don’t see him stopping.

The MLS conference finals are just around the corner

The MLS conference finals are just around the corner

In just three days’ time, the MLS Conference Finals will kick off. We’ve had a long season of football, with 34 regular season matches and now two rounds of finals action. The Conference Finals are effectively, well, just that – the match to determine the best team in the Western and Eastern conferences, and the match to qualify two teams to the MLS Cup Final on December 8th. Here’s what you need to know.

Which teams have qualified?

From the Eastern Conference this year, we’ve got Atlanta United and New York Red Bulls. The Western Conference is contributing Sporting Kansas City and the Portland Timbers. That’s not much to go off, so here’s a quick rundown of each side.

Atlanta United

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This is just the Five Stripes’ second season in Major League Soccer, but they’ve made one heck of an impression so far. Last season, they finished fourth in the Eastern Conference, which qualified them for finals football. However, they went out in the Knockout Round (the first round) on penalty kicks to the Columbus Crew.

This season, Atlanta have upped their game even more, finishing second in the Eastern and qualifying for the 2019 CONCACAF Champions League. Venezuelan national team regular Josef Martinez has led that push with a huge 31 goals, the most ever scored in an MLS season, overtaking the 27 scored by Roy Lassiter, Chris Wondolowski and Bradley Wright-Phillips in 1996, 2012 and 2014 respectively. Once you see those numbers, it’s obvious why United are the top scorers this season, with 70 goals.

Miguel Almiron and Julian Gressel have been immense with their 14 assists each this season, and both of them – plus Martinez – are 24 or 25 years of age, meaning they’re coming into their prime. In addition, goalkeeper Brad Guzan, formerly of Aston Villa, has eight clean sheets (shutouts) this season, and Martinez, Almiron, Guzan, defender Michael Parkhurst and midfielder Ezequiel Barco were selected for the 2018 All-Star Game, held in Atlanta.

New York Red Bulls

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The Red Bulls have been going a little longer than Atlanta United – they were a founding member of the MLS, known at the time as the New York/New Jersey MetroStars. In 2006, the Austrian trash-makers and football-destroyers over at Red Bull swept in and purchased the club, rebranding it. That said, they’re still nicknamed the Metros. Last season, they finished sixth in the Eastern, qualifying for finals but going out in the Conference Semis to eventual champions Toronto.

In 2018, they’ve gone better – they topped the Eastern and won the Supporters’ Shield (top of the regular season) to boot. That’s despite a coaching change midseason which saw old manager Jesse Marsch become assistant at Leipzig in Germany. In terms of players, they’ve got ex-Premier League player Bradley Wright-Phillips, and with 20 goals to his name for the season, he’s not doing badly either. He’s supported by Alejandro Romero Gamarra, with the Red Bulls’ new signing making fourteen assists.

The Metros also boast having the best goalkeeper in the division by clean sheets – Luis Robles has fourteen – and he’s a big part of the reason they’ve conceded just 33 goals this regular season, the least in the league. In terms of All-Star quality players, Wright-Phillips is in there, alongside midfielder Tyler Adams and a defensive partnership of Michael Murillo and Aaron Long.

Sporting Kansas CityImage result for sporting kansas city

In the Western Conference, we’ve got Sporting Kansas City, the only Big 5 team based in Kansas (yep, the Big 5 is totally a thing). The Wizards are the only team left in the MLS Cup this season with more than one championship – they’ve got two, whilst the Timbers have one and neither Atlanta nor the Red Bulls have won one yet. Also founded in 1996, Sporting KC finished last season fifth in the Western and lost in the knockout round to Houston Dynamo.

They’ve jumped up the table this season, with a first-place finish in their conference, although they still sit behind both Eastern finalists on points. And it’s not like they’ve done this with a star-studded side – with all due respect to SKC, their squad isn’t full of the big names. One big name is goalkeeper Tim Melia, with thirteen clean sheets for the regular season. Former Betis midfielder Felipe Gutierrez and Andreu Fontas, once at Barcelona, are also in the squad.

Kansas City’s top scorer for the season is the Scot Johnny Russell, with just 10 MLS goals. Looking at their squad, it’s hard to see exactly where the goals have come from, but they have, with Sporting KC being the fourth-highest scorers of the season. And yes, of course they got a few in the All-Stars, with defender Graham Zusi and midfielder Ilie Sanchez finding their way into the squad.

Portland Timbers

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The Timbers, like Atlanta, are an expansion side. Founded in 2011, they’ve managed to lift the MLS Cup once, in 2015. Portland perhaps stand out among this crop of sides in that depending on what metric you use, 2018 may be considered worse for them than 2017. They’ve gone from first in the Western Conference down to fifth, but they’ve gained one point in the regular season and made it (at least) a round further than last season, where they lost to Houston in the Conference Semifinals.

In terms of top players, there’s not much to talk about from this season. Their one All-Star representative is brilliant midfielder Diego Valeri, who’s been running the show in Oregon for what feels like forever, but is actually since 2013. In goal, Jeff Attinella has been a decent replacement for Kiwi Jake Gleeson, and there’s another Kiwi in the squad in Bill Tuiloma.

Apart from that, there isn’t much to say about the Timbers. They’ve been OK at best for most of the season, with a +6 goal difference, the eleventh-best attack and the eighth-best defence. They qualified for the playoffs by six points only, compared to 14, 23 and 25 for the other sides in the Conference Finals. And, because of their fifth-place finish, they had to play one more round of football than the other Finalists.

What happens now?

The Conference Finals start on Sunday US time, Monday NZ time. Atlanta meet the Red Bulls in Georgia at 5pm Eastern Time (11am Monday in New Zealand) before Sporting KC visit Portland, with that match kicking off two and a half hours later. These matches are double-legged, however, and the second matches will be on Thursday US time, Friday NZ time. New York host Atlanta first, at 7:30pm Eastern (1:30pm NZ) and two hours later, Kansas City welcomes the Timbers. Only then will we find out who will meet in the MLS Cup final on December 8th.

 

Usain Bolt: What’s going on there?

Usain Bolt: What’s going on there?

The big story over the A-League offseason has been Usain Bolt’s trial at the Central Coast Mariners. Last season’s bottom club have managed to somehow lure the Jamaican sprinter to Gosford, and are allegedly offering a contract. It’s a pretty hefty fee they’re paying, too, for someone who’s never played professional football. And at 32, it’s not like they’ll get much use out of him. To be fair, however, he has got huge marketing appeal. Really, the whole situation’s a mess.

Image result for usain bolt central coast mariners

The first thing that needs to be established is that Bolt is a competent footballer. He’s trained with Borussia Dortmund, he’s trialled with Stromsgodset in Norway and there was an offer from Valletta FC, based in European footballing hotbed Malta. He scored two goals in a friendly match in preseason. To write him off as a poor footballer isn’t needed.

But what is he going to bring to the Mariners? Bolt’s played as a forward or winger in the friendly matches so far. Imagine if he’s given a contract and starts playing A-League football. How’s Connor Pain going to feel about that? What about Matt Simon? Or Tommy Oar? The three of them have a combined 31 years of professional footballing experience. Bolt has none.

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And just look at the contract offer. It’s enough for the A-League to need FFA to step in and fund it. It’s been rumoured at $3 million a year. That’s not a bad contract for the Premier League, and we’re meant to expect that giving this kind of money to a fairly unproven non-footballer makes sense? It doesn’t. Not at all. That’s a huge amount of their salary cap, gone.

Yes, Bolt will bring in crowds. And yes, people will buy merchandise. They’ll make some money out of it. But if we’re at a point where the finances are more important than on-field action, then I’m worried for the future of the A-League. The Mariners might be overlooking what gets people to go to the football. When I go to a Phoenix game, I’m not going because I wanna see this player or that player. I go to see the team, my team, play a game of football.

There have been successful crossovers in sport before, I’m not going to deny that. There are players that excel at two similar sports – think Brad Thorn in both rugby union and rugby league, or Jarryd Hayne in just about everything. And there are players who play two very different sports – rugby and cricket have nothing to do with each other but Jeff Wilson still did well in both. Bolt’s effectively doing the second one of those two, and pretending it’s the first. Barack Obama’s apparently a pretty handy basketball player, but the Phoenix Suns aren’t trying to sign him up, no matter how desperate they may be.

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Ultimately, Bolt’s move to the Central Coast Mariners is a farce. It’s not going to be any good for the club, it makes the rest of the league look like a joke, it’s a kick in the teeth to all of the players who have worked for this – and, as Andy Keogh said, he’s got a first touch like a trampoline.

A look at the eight A-League expansion bids

A look at the eight A-League expansion bids

The 2018-19 A-League, the top-flight of football in Australia, kicks off in just eight days’ time when Sydney FC travel to Adelaide United. Over the course of the next seven months, the next 140 games, we’ll see a new premier and a new champion crowned. What we won’t see after this season, however, is the current format. The A-League has had ten teams exactly since 2011, but that’s all about to change with two new sides joining the competition in 2019-20. Exactly who those teams will be is currently unclear, and there are eight competing bids. Let’s take a look.


The first bid to look at, and the most well-documented, is Canberra.

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Australia’s capital city already has a W-League side, Canberra United, however it’s understood that this bid would be separate. The bid, led by Michael Caggiano of ONTHEGO, would see a new stadium built in the city for use by the football team, rugby side the Brumbies and league team the Raiders. The bid has also been negotiating with a Champions League side with a view towards a partnership agreement, similar to the link between Manchester City, Melbourne City and New York City in the MLS. The bid is considerably better publicised than any others, and should be a frontrunner for the spot.

Another bid comes from Ipswich, just west of Brisbane. Ipswich has seen a large population increase as people move away from the crowded centre of Brisbane and out into more suburban areas. Like Canberra, Ipswich want to build a new stadium, with the preferred location being at the North Ipswich Reserve and the capacity aiming for 15,000. Expansion into Queensland hasn’t gone brilliantly well for the A-League, with two of the three defunct clubs being from the state, but there’s no reason to think that trend will continue.

There’s also interest from an existing football team, Wollongong Wolves, to join the A-League.

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The Wollongong Wolves, from Wollongong in the Illawarra area, were part of the National Soccer League, the top-flight in Australia before the A-League, and managed to win it twice as well as taking an OFC Champions League title. They’ve fallen into relative obscurity since then, but there’s good reason for them to join the A-League. 8,000 people showed up for a home cup game against Sydney FC, which is higher than two A-League sides’ average attendance last season. And the Wollongong area has some of the highest youth football participation rates in the country, only increasing the bid’s chance of success.


OK, now it gets boring, because we’re going into the big cities. Let’s start with the two Sydney bids.

Yep, two bids. Because apparently having one-fifth of the teams in one city isn’t enough. Anyway, one bid is coming in from southern Sydney whilst the other is southwest Sydney or neighbouring Macarthur. Details are a little scarce on these bids, but Southern Sydney would most likely play out of St George. Given that there are already two other teams in the city, and most likely very few football fans willing to swap allegiances, I don’t think either of these bids are likely to be picked.

There’s three more bids left, all based in Melbourne.

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South Melbourne FC, the most successful team in Australian history (alongside three others), want to join the A-League. The side, formerly managed by Ferenc Puskas, have four Australian championships and an OFC Champions League win. They also have five million dollars and a 12,000 capacity stadium, which might prove useful. They’re also interested in entering a W-League team, and would be a popular choice with many Melbourne residents not wanting to have to choose between Victory or City. It remains to be seen if they’d be popular with anyone else, though.

The other two sides are… also Melbourne. One bid is from the south-east of the city, with the intention of building a 10,000 capacity stadium (at least). The region has 1.7 million people, and high participation rates in the sport. Six local sides are looking to unify for the bid to come together. The other bid is from West Melbourne, and there are barely any details about it out there.


So there they are, the eight bids to join the A-League. In my opinion, the two best bids are Canberra and Wollongong Wolves, however I am not a businessperson, or a CEO, or any other sort of decision-maker. I’m just a fan with 0.000002 bitcoin who wants to get his opinions out there. In any case, we won’t know the decision until its release, which should be before the end of the month.

So that’s that. Which bids would you like to be accepted? Tell us!

What happened to star defenders?

What happened to star defenders?

Tuesday this week was the birthday of one of the greatest footballers of all time, in my opinion: Franz Beckenbauer. The German played nineteen years of football for Bayern Munich, Hamburg and the New York Cosmos, as well as making over one hundred appearances for West Germany. He won nineteen trophies as a player, including the World Cup, the Euros and three European Cups. Oh, and he managed a Ballon d’Or or two. Beckenbauer was a star.

And yet he wasn’t banging in the goals like those we admire today. He wasn’t playing in the forwards or setting up chances, and he only broke the ten-goal barrier once, back when he was in the second tier as a youngster. No, Beckenbauer was at the other end, getting tackles in from anywhere and everywhere, marshalling the defence and looking to get the ball up the other end. He was one of the first, if not the very first sweeper in top-level football. He was immensely popular, and it’s not like his talent wasn’t recognised – after all, he won two Ballons d’Or. But what about those players now?

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It’s not like we’ve got a shortage of talented defenders. Ramos, Varane, Pique, Boateng, Hummels, Kompany, Azpilicueta, Chiellini and that’s just centre-backs. Wider out there’s Alba, Alaba, Kimmich, Carvajal, Marcelo, Danilo, and the greatest player of all time, Seamus Coleman. And yet despite this talent, players who have been doing this for years on end, we’ve decided to focus almost exclusively on forwards.

Just look at the shortlists for the FIFA awards. Last year, twenty-four players were shortlisted for the Best Men’s Player – four were defenders. In 2016, there was just one on the list, and this year, there was also only one (out of ten this time). No defender had been in the final three for the award since 2006 when Fabio Cannavaro won in 2006, and that victory wasn’t as clear-cut as others from its time period.

In part this doesn’t surprise me – after all, would you rather watch Messi or Cristiano score goals and terrorise defences, or Ramos or Pique trying to organise a defence and clear the ball away? There’s a reason FIFA have the Puskas Award for best goal and not one for best tackle or block. But it isn’t something that’s going away soon.

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Take the World Team of the 20th century, for example. The front six is about what you’d expect, with the slots going to Pele and Garrincha, plus Maradona, di Stefano, Cruyff and Platini. But it’s in defence where the names become less recognisable – Nilton Santos, anyone? Beckenbauer joins Moore, Nilton and Carlos Alberto in a sturdy defence.

But it’s clear to see the gap in recognition between the two groups. For Nilton and Carlos Alberto, these are their only individual awards (alongside the FIFA 100, Pele’s list of people he likes). Beckenbauer of course has two Ballons ‘Or and three World Cup All-Star Team selections, and Moore has one selection to the same team. That’s ten awards across the defence, less than Pele by himself and as many as Diego Maradona. Neither of them were eligible for the Ballon d’Or but the awards have been retroactively reevaluated and alternate winners announced – Pele, Maradona and Garrincha get ten. Add on the seven extra from Cruyff, di Stefano and Platini and the massive gap starts to become evident.

What can be done to fix this, if it even requires fixing? I don’t know. People will always be drawn to the obvious flair, the talent that doesn’t require effort to spot. They’ll find more enjoyment in watching a Kevin de Bruyne scorcher rip into the corner than they will watching Mats Hummels get a toe in and knock the ball out for a corner. It’s unfortunate to see people choose Beckham over Beckenbauer or Socrates over Sokratis, but that’s football.

Image credit:https://www.google.co.nz/url?sa=i&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=images&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwjvt7-82bXdAhXSBIgKHRozBt0QjRx6BAgBEAU&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.footballtransfertavern.com%2Fpremier-league%2Fmanchester-united-boss-crazy-over-borussia-dortmund-defender%2F&psig=AOvVaw1elnPXa_GFf7w5FlRGewGx&ust=1536849702677431

https://the18.com/sites/default/files/styles/feature_image_with_focal/public/article-img/Epic-Goal-Line-Save-Ligue-1-Mathieu-Peybernes-Bastia-France-Defense.jpg?itok=iX5Xr12z

David Beckham’s Miami MLS team finally has a name

David Beckham’s Miami MLS team finally has a name

After years of wait, David Beckham has finally announced the name and logo of his MLS club. The Miami-based side will take the name Club Internacional de Futbol Miami, or Inter Miami for people who just can’t be bothered with all that nonsense.

We’re finally getting closer to the club’s launch after a saga lasting since 2013, and Inter Miami are poised to enter the league in 2020. By then, FC Cincinnati will already have been promoted from the United Soccer League, the second tier of football in the United States. Miami will join Major League Soccer alongside a team from Nashville, Tennessee, which is yet to be named.

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This is the proposed stadium for Overtown.

Beckham’s side are developing well, but there’s still progress to be made. Their stadium location is not yet finalised with Beckham wanting to build a 25,000-seater stadium on the waterfront. There are also proposals to build either near Miami International Airport or in Overtown, in the north of the city. Miami Fusion, who played in MLS from 1998 to 2001, had their home games at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, however this only seats 17,000. Of course there are other grounds available in the city, such as the Miami Dolphins’ Hard Rock Stadium, but two gridiron teams already play there.

The side had been called many names throughout the past few years. Beckham’s ownership group commonly referred to them as Miami Vice or Miami Current, and the project in general was known as Miami Beckham United. Inter Miami will not be the first side in MLS to use a Spanish-influenced name. That honour goes to Real Salt Lake from Utah and Chivas USA based in Los Angeles, who each joined the league in 2005, although Chivas no longer exists.

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Blue? They’re pink now!

The club’s colours will be black, white and pink, with a fairly similar shade of pink to Italian side Citta di Palermo. Beckham has said of the logo that he was inspired by typical South American club logos. Clearly they’ve paid attention to detail – the sun in the middle of the crest has seven rays, a homage to Beckham’s iconic No. 7 jersey.

When the club join the league in 2020, provided everything goes to plan, there will be 26 clubs in MLS from seventeen states plus D.C. and three provinces of Canada. Expansion is expected to continue further, with the league aiming to reach 28 teams eventually. These extra teams would likely be in Detroit, Sacramento or San Diego.

Image credit:                                                                                                                                          http://worldsoccertalk.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/miami-mls-stadium-overtown.png https://img.rasset.ie/000f4d81-800.jpg                                            https://footyfans.org/files/2018/09/internacionalmiami-1-300×225.png

 

An Open Letter to West Ham

An Open Letter to West Ham

Dear West Ham

 

As a West Ham fan, I am the most confused person alive right now. I didn’t think that it was possible to have a worse start than last year, but with three losses in as many games, we obviously have.

And it was looking so good. We had spent money in the transfer window for once, and we broke our transfer record twice with Issa Diop and Felipe Anderson. We got in a Premier League winning manager in Manuel Pellegrini and we had a good preseason. We were looking set for the new season.

And then we collapsed. Away to Liverpool was not going to be an easy start but the way that we collapsed under the slightest bit of pressure was a sight to behold. Next, Bournemouth. The cherries thoroughly outplayed us. The 2-1 scoreline was flattering, to say the least. And then yesterday, Arsenal. How badly can we get outplayed? They tore us a new one, outplaying us all over the pitch.

This is worrying. I know that with a new manager and a lot of new players things will take time to work out but it’s been three league games now plus preseason and if things don’t start improving soon, something has to change. Whether that be the manager or just the tactics I don’t know, but something will change. Something has to change.

 

Yours,

Zac

Image Credits:

https://tbrfootball.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/GettyImages-998635028-1000×600.jpg

Zac’s Top Transfers 2018/19

Zac’s Top Transfers 2018/19

Well with most of the transfers this window already over I thought that I might as well rank my top five. Now let’s get into it. Short and snappy, I like it!

5. Jorginho to Chelsea
Maurizio Sarri is the new boss at Chelsea, which means that they will be playing Sarriball and Jorginho is a crucial part of that system. As a regista, Jorginho plays as the base for all the attacks, with great passing range and skill. The signing of Jorginho gives Chelsea one of the top three midfielders in the Premier League, which is not something to be sniffed at.

4. Stefan de Vrij to Internazionale
Stefan de Vrij was brilliant last year for Lazio, helping them reach a very respectable 5th in the league. He was a rock at the back for Lazio easily their best player along with Ciro Immobile. He will be a great signing for Inter, who will be a force to reckoned with this season.

Wi

3. William Carvalho to Real Betis
I have no idea how Real Betis managed to sign William Carvalho. Absolutely none. He is one of the best defensive midfielders in the world and Betis is a mid-table team in Spain. They have pulled off a coup and expect them to better last season’s 6th.

2. Leon Goretzka to Bayern Munich
Getting your main domestic rival’s best player on a free transfer is good business in anyone’s books. Leon Goretzka is an amazing talent that was by far Schalke’s best player last year so of course Bayern brought him. But to get him on a free? That’s better than even Bayern could have expected.

1. Alisson Becker to Liverpool
Liverpool have been begging for a goalkeeper for years. With first Simon Mignolet and then Loris Karius they haven’t had one for years. But Alisson was easily the best goalkeeper in Serie A last season and I don’t see why he can’t carry over that form to the Premier League. They did pay a lot for him but trust me, it will be worth it.

Image Credits:

http://www.squawka.com/en/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/GettyImages-669394346.jpg

http://www4.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/Stefan+de+Vrij+Netherlands+v+Ecuador+International+ynboz17k-Ogl.jpg

http://www3.pictures.zimbio.com/gi/USA+v+Portugal+Group+G+2014+FIFA+World+Cup+0mVuk4DWK77x.jpg

http://cdn.images.express.co.uk/img/dynamic/67/590x/secondary/Leon-Goretzka-871354.jpg

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